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25th Jun 2017

James Gallagher’s American debut couldn’t possibly have gone any better

Just 20 years of age

Ben Kiely

James Gallagher

He’s from Strabane and he’s an animal, that’s why they call James Gallagher ‘the Strabanimal’.

SBG starlet James Gallagher (7-0) made very light work of Chinzo Machida (5-3) at Bellator 180 in Madison Square Garden.

The 20-year-old took the centre of the cage as soon as the opening buzzer sounded, while Chinzo’s calm demeanour from the get-go was reminiscent of his former UFC light-heavyweight champion brother Lyoto.

Although Gallagher rushed in, he showed real maturity to not engage in the striking against a high-level karate practitioner like Machida. He remained composed, found his flow and found home with the first strike of the bout before catching a kick and taking Machida down to the mat.

Gallagher breezed into mount and went to work with his ground-and-pound, opening up a cut above his 40-year-old opponent’s eye. As the blood began to seep, Gallagher took his back, secured the rear-naked choke and forced the tap at 2:22 of the opening round.

The win for Gallagher marked a successful debut on American soil. It also saw him maintain his pristine professional record and score his fourth-straight win under the Bellator banner.

Speaking to Jimmy Smith, Gallagher oozed confidence.

“I’m always here for the first-round finish. When I say I do, I always come and do, every time.”

After the fight, Gallagher hopped out of the cage to go embrace his family in the crowd.